10 Apr 2009

Australia believes NZ moving closer to US

10:09 pm on 10 April 2009

Australia's defence minister believes New Zealand is ready for improved relations with the United States.

Diplomatic relations with the US have been strained for more than 20 years after New Zealand declared itself nuclear free and refused entry to US nuclear ships.

Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon is in Washington for an annual round of alliance talks.

Speaking to a US think-tank, Mr Fitzgibbon said under Prime Minister John Key, the New Zealand Government has very much come back to the US fold.

He says he senses more enthusiasm from the National-led government to work with the US.

This week New Zealand signed an agreement to help finance a US operation fighting nuclear developments in Kazakhstan.

At that meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the relationship between the two countries as the best it has been for 25 years.